Usability in ITSM Tools: What is it and How Do We Get it? - Sunrise Software

Everybody agrees that usability is a vital component of ITSM tools. Nobody would doubt it, least of all us. According to research by the Service Desk Institute, usability is the #1 customer frustration with ITSM tools. But… what does usability actually mean?

What is ITSM Usability?

If you ask 100 people, you’ll likely get 100 different answers. So, to kick things off, here’s what we think usability means in an ITSM context.

In order to be usable, an ITSM tool must be…

…easy to work with for all roles and personnel within an organisation;

…easy for the organisation to configure; and,

…easy for the organisation to alter at any time without needing consultancy from the vendor.

Naturally, making changes to the implementation of an ITSM tool will require user training.

But we believe customers should be able to make desired changes themselves most of the time, reducing the need for chargeable services.

The 4 Components of ITSM Usability

Even our definition has its problems. “Easy” is a subjective term, after all, and further analysis is required to truly understand whether an ITSM tool can be considered usable.

Here are the four components of usability that we consider as we continue to develop our own ITSM tool:

1) Ease of Use for Service Desks

Service desk teams work under extreme pressure every day. The longer it takes them to answer calls and process tickets, the less efficient the organisation is as a whole. That’s why we believe that ease of use for service desk personnel is the #1 criteria of a usable ITSM tool.

But what does ease of use mean?

We believe service desk teams must have a tool that lets them see everything they need to fulfil their roles from the moment they login. For example, an engineer needs to be able to see all of their open instances at a glance, while a manager needs to see everything that’s open for their team.

As a whole, service desk teams need an ITSM tool that makes it easy to:

  • Move around inside the dashboard
  • Quickly edit and update tasks
  • Quickly find answers within an established knowledge base
  • Access all dashboards and tools instantly from their web browser… or any other device

If an ITSM tool is able to fulfil these functions intuitively, it can be considered usable for service desk personnel. But then what about the end user?

2) Intuitive for the End User

Most organisations give the majority of their consideration to usability for service desk personnel. After all, they’re the ones who use the system day in and day out.

But what about the end user? If they have access to an intuitive, easy-to-use self-service solution that can solve the majority of their problems, most users will happily use it.

But if it’s complex, hard to use, or unreliable, they are far more likely to call the service desk to solve their problems. This completely undermines the purpose of self-service and drastically reduces the efficiency of an organisation’s IT service.

So, what do end users need from a self-service solution?

Familiarity. Users are accustomed to highly intuitive, “Amazon-style” shopping experiences. If an ITSM tool can replicate that — thereby providing an intuitive experience that most users can navigate easily — they’ll happily use it. If it can’t, they probably won’t.

In order to be usable, every aspect of the user’s self-service experience must be intuitive — including:

  • The user’s login experience
  • Navigating the self-service portal
  • Finding and selecting products or services
  • Accessing and editing information (including passwords)

And it’s not just about making it easy for users to do things. It must also be easy for them to find answers to any questions they have. That’s why the second hallmark of a usable self-service solution is…

Powerful Searching. Finding information within a large knowledge base isn’t always easy, especially for a non-technical user who may not know which keywords to include in their search. That’s why we believe a huge part of usability for the end user is the inclusion of a powerful dynamic search function that enables users to find the articles they need quickly and easily without having to know the exact title.

In Sunrise ITSM, knowledge articles can be tagged with a variety of keywords to help end users find the information they need. For example, if the user is seeing an error code, the relevant help article could be tagged with that error code — as well as a series of other relevant tags — that will help the user find the information they need using any relevant search term. Our video of Intelligent Searching may help you.

3) Administrative Power and Flexibility

Service desk managers have a tough job in making sure all incidents are processed quickly, effectively, and consistently. To do this effectively, they need an ITSM tool that makes it easy for them to complete a wide variety of tasks:

  • Allocating and overseeing tasks
  • Adapting and tailoring permissions
  • Keeping track of performance and KPIs
  • Dealing with any difficulties that arise

From an administrator’s perspective, the ITSM tool’s dashboards, view settings, and reporting functions are critical. While a certain level of personal taste plays a role here, a usable ITSM tool is undoubtedly one that provides administrators with the flexibility to set up their dashboards, wallboards, and reporting to reflect their specific needs.

And it doesn’t stop there. In order to truly unlock the potential of the helpdesk, administrators need one other key function:

Automation. Completing repetitive, manual tasks is one of the greatest hindrances to service desk efficiency. Not only does it consume a huge amount of time, it also leads to errors that must be identified, reported, and rectified.

The ability for administrators to set up automation within the ITSM tool can drastically improve efficiency while freeing up service desk personnel to focus on more important tasks. For example, if a request is received to generate a new user account, all of the necessary tasks — setting up email accounts and permissions, building a new laptop, ordering a keycard, etc — can be completed automatically.

4) Configurability

Not every organisation has the same set of needs. Even very similar organisations can have drastically different processes for completing the same basic function. That’s why we believe configurability is a critical aspect of usability in an ITSM tool.

And when it comes to determining whether an ITSM tool is configurable, there are really two questions to answer:

  1. Can the tool be set up in line with your needs at the outset?
  2. Once the tool is implemented, can you change its setup easily reducing the need for chargeable services from the vendor?

Put another way, can you easily determine — and change — the way users view and interact with the tool?

If you can, the tool can be considered configurable. If you can’t, it isn’t.

What Does Usability Mean to Your Organisation?

In this article, we’ve looked at what we believe makes a usable ITSM tool. But what really matters is what your organisation needs.

If your existing ITSM solution doesn’t fulfil the criteria we’ve laid out in this article, it’s worth asking yourself whether it can really be considered usable for your organisation.

Watch the Sunrise ITSM Use Case videos for: Onboarding a new starter, Processing a Leaver, including the GDPR Right to be Forgotten, Registering a Lost Phone and Requesting a New Phone. Feel free to contact us to discuss ITSM Usability at your organisation.

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